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Italian Food Firm Bites into Netgrocer.com

Seeking to take gain a foothold in the online grocery field, leading international food company Parmalat SpA Monday invested $30 million in NetGrocer.com.

The investment, equal to a 22.3 percent NetGrocer stake, will increase the company's ability to expedite its growth plans and maintain its leadership position as an e-grocer. Parmalat will gain representation on NetGrocer's board of directors and will collaborate on the business strategy of the online grocer.

All of Parmalat's current non-perishable products in the U.S. will be offered for sale on NetGrocer.com throughout the United States, and Parmalat will have access to NetGrocer.com's e-commerce technology. For NetGrocer.com, the deal will nurture it with the resources it needs to build its international presence in markets such as Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia.

"Parmalat's extraordinary business, technological and financial strength and global presence combined with deep experience on the worldwide stage present to NetGrocer.com valuable assets with which to take the company to the next level," said Jim Chambers, NetGrocer.com's chairman and chief executive officer.

Rated highly last month on Gomez Advisor's Internet grocery services scorecard, NetGrocer.com enables shoppers in the U.S., to buy groceries, drug store items, general merchandise and other items online, with no membership fees, and have them delivered via Federal Express.

NetGrocer.com's good fortune comes a week after competitor Peapod.com Inc. (PPOD) saw the bottom fall out beneath it when CEO Bill Malloy resigned, citing health reasons. This quickly prompted Apollo Management LP, Yucaipa Cos., Pequot Capital Management Inc. and GRP II LP, to renege on a $120 million investment in the online grocer.



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